Bernard “Ben” Victor Bernatovich
Bernard Victor Bernatovich (Ben) died September 18, 2019 in Fitchburg, WI at Agrace Hospice Center. He went to be with his wife of nearly 60 years, Rita, who died July 28, 2019. Ben was born February 1, 1939, in Racine, WI, to Bernard and Katie Bernatovich.
Ben met Rita Crocco at St. Catherine’s High School, when they were both 15 years old. They married at age 20 on August 29, 1959, in Racine at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
He is survived by daughters Laura Burke, Jennifer (Daniel) Leclaire, and Jane (Tim Budke) Bernatovich; grandchildren Samantha Burke and Bennett “Louie” Leclaire, and step-grandchildren Molly and Riley Budke; sisters-in-laws Mary Bernatovich, Toni Eucalano, Melly Boone, and Phyllis Harris, and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his wife, his parents, and his brother Jim.
Ben was a lover of words, books, and languages. He received his Bachelor’s degree in English at Dominican College in Racine and his Masters and PhD degrees at Loyola University in Chicago. He moved his family to La Crosse in 1968 to teach English at UW-La Crosse.
Ben kept active with Rita, joining golf and bowling leagues and listening to jazz. At Rita’s encouragement, he joined the Coulee Chordsmen, the local barbershop chorus. He was a member for several years, serving as its president three terms. He enjoyed showing old films of boxing matches, starting the La Crosse Boxing Club. Ben always had a crossword puzzle in his hands, even while watching Jeopardy! or Packers’ games.
Ben and Rita were avid Chicago Cubs fans, attending Spring Training during Spring Break several years. After Ben retired in 1999, they spent months in Mesa, eventually buying a mobile home for year-round living. They moved in 2005 to Madison, where their three daughters and families lived.
A private memorial for family will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to your favorite charity.
Cress Funeral & Cremation Service
3610 Speedway Road Madison
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